In cases involving the relocation of the custodial parent, the primary consideration is the best interest of the child or children involved. Any determination made by a court in relocation cases must be made on a case-by-case basis. When the custodial parent relocates and the non-custodial parents seeks a modification of custody as a result, there is no presumption that the relocating parent will always lose custody nor is there a presumption in favor of the relocating paren. See Weickert v. Weickert, 268 Ga. App 624 (2004); Bodne v. Bodne, 277 Ga. 445 (2003). As with all cases concerning the modification of a prior child custody award, there must be a finding of a new material change in the circumstance affecting the child before a modification based on relocation will be made.
There are several factors that may have an impact on a courts determination regarding a change of custody resulting from the relocation of one parent. These factors include:
- A child’s relationship with a non-custodial parent;
- The child’s ties to local schools and friend;
- The child’s age;
- The stress and instability of relocation and the corresponding benefits of consistency and stability for the child;
- Interests of the entire binuclear family, which consists of the household headed by the custodial parent as well as the household headed by the non-custodial parent;
- The custodial parent’s reason for relocating;
- The dynamics of the custodial parent’s new family unit; and,
- Any other relevant factors.
Bodne v. Bodne supra.
If you are a custodial parent currently anticipating relocation, or if you are a non-custodial parent concerned that your co-parent’s relocation will have a negative impact on your parenting time, you should considering talking with a divorce attorney at our office to get advice regarding the best way to proceed forward before taking any steps towards relocation.